- Last Updated: 3:04 AM, August 21, 2012
- Posted: 12:40 AM, August 20, 2012
In less than two weeks, ESPN’s exclusive negotiating window with the Big East Conference will open for 60 days, after which the league can become a free agent.
Unless aliens invade planet Earth and abolish TV, the conference will have a big-time deal in place with some network or networks in a matter of months.
Even if such an invasion should occur (the abolition of synchronized swimming and BMX racing from the Olympics would be welcome) — considering the league has hired former CBS exec Mike Aresco as its new commissioner and CSTV founder Chris Belivacqua’s company as its media consultant — the Big East probably would simply hire the Alien Czar of Intergalactic TV and talks would resume.
The billion-dollar question, of course, is what will that deal fetch?
It makes little sense to compare what the league will get based on what others have received, because conference size and markets vary.
But for the record, the league turned down a nine-year extension worth $1.4 billion with ESPN about a year ago. The ACC signed an extension last May with ESPN that will be worth about $3.6 billion over the 15-year deal.
The Big East, however, is unlike any conference:
Its footprint now spans all four time zones, but which could be a significant asset. But even its most nationally known football program, Boise State, which joins the league next season, doesn’t carry nearly the clout of a USC or Florida State.
What it does have, without question, is one of the best, if not the best, basketball conferences in the nation. Yes, two of those elite programs — Pittsburgh and Syracuse — have left for the ACC, but Memphis and Temple should help to offset those losses to some degree.
“Basketball rights are really valuable,’’ Aresco said last week at his hiring. “Really valuable.”
Which is why — although when experts and non-experts speculate on the Big East’s possible contract it’s done through the viewfinder of football — the conference diligently has been working to make sure its basketball asset is fully appreciated come negotiating time.
Remember when Pitt and Syracuse left for the ACC and there was speculation the ACC would move its conference hoops tournament to the Garden should the Big East crumble? It’s not going to happen.
Sources told The Post the Big East and the Garden are close to agreeing on a 10-year extension that will keep the league in the mecca of college basketball through the 2026 season.
There’s no doubt football drives the bus in terms of media revenue. But Aresco knows if securing the TV deal is Job One, reaching across both sides of the Big East aisle is Job Two.
It was therefore not a surprise last week to hear him rave about the potential of the league’s football programs (even though we know that definition of potential is French for ‘Hasn’t Done Anything Yet!’) and segue the conversation back to basketball.
“The ACC doesn’t get the deal it got without its basketball,’’ said Aresco. “I don’t think there’s any doubt that the Big East and the ACC are the two best basketball conferences in the country.’’
Sounds like the negotiations have already begun.Follow @NYPostsports